The most interesting things I’ve learned about learning

Mastery is more important than passing grades. You will reach limits in learning when you have a “Swiss cheese” foundation full of misconception holes. Master each concept before building on top.

Reference: Khan Academy, my own martial arts training, my high school physics teacher

Routine expertise comes from mastering visible behaviour; adaptive expertise comes from mastering invisible concepts. You can only detect whether someone truly understands underlying concepts by exposing them to different scenarios where the appropriate concepts still apply but the appropriate behaviour changes.

Reference: Think Like a Commander

Face-to-face instruction should focus on practise and exploration, not on learning basic facts. Basic facts are better served online. Online allows students to feel safer and review at their own pace.

Reference: Khan Academy, “flip the classroom”

Learning starts with unlearning misconceptions. If people already have misconceptions, just telling them the correct concept will not work as they will re-interpret what you describe to match their misconception. Instead describe the misconception, and then point out that it is wrong in order to create disconfirmation before describing the correct concept.

Reference: Veritasium

Teach one concept at a time. Reduce the batch size of learning to create focus, more clearly detect misconceptions as they appear, and reduce cognitive load.

Reference: One point lessons, cognitive load theory

Simulations cause people to exercise their strengths; deliberate practise needs to address weaknesses. Realistic simulations cause people to focus on achieving outcomes by utilising their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses. However, in order to develop expertise, practise needs to deliberately expose and address weaknesses. Specifically designed exercises, not full simulations, are necessary to engage in deliberate practise.

Reference: Think Like a Commander

Learning effectively means becoming psychologically comfortable with failure. We learn the fastest in highly challenging scenarios. Because they are highly challenging, we should expect to fail often. This is not a celebration of failure but a recognition that this is an essential part of an optimal learning process.

Reference: Productive Failure, growth mindset, my own martial arts training

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